Every week, The Post runs a collection of letters of readers’ grievances — pointing out grammatical mistakes, missing coverage and inconsistencies. These letters tell us what we did wrong and, occasionally, offer praise. Here, we present this week’s Free for All letters.
Beth Matthews, Baltimore
Telling only half of a sad story
The Nov. 14 front-page article “At Yale, suicidal students are pressed to withdraw” was a very well-intentioned piece of journalism. Unfortunately, it included comments only from women at Ivy League schools.
Though I have no evidence to back this up, I suspect there are numerous accounts of young men struggling under the academic rigors of these same schools. In only quoting women, the article marginalized the issue. Suicidal ideation, suicide attempts and overall mental health problems affect young men and young women. In telling half the story, the article inadvertently suggested that men don’t have this issue.
Alan Stearn, Rockville
A winner in life loses 23-0 in The Post
According to The Post’s website, since 2017, The Post has published 23 pieces written by 12 reporters or columnists about the FBI investigation into the pay-to-play college basketball recruiting “scandal.” In those pieces, former University of Louisville head basketball coach Rick Pitino was referenced by name and portrayed in a very negative light. If you read those pieces, you were left with the impression he was guilty.
John Feinstein’s Sept. 28, 2017, Sports column, “Coaches actually do know everything that goes on inside their programs,” seemed to imply Pitino was well aware of the payment to a Louisville player and his family from Adidas.
Guess how many stories The Post has done on the final findings of the Independent Accountability Resolution Process board that cleared Pitino of any wrongdoing. Yep, you guessed it. Zero.
The final findings of an investigation The Post spent years covering are really important! It’s the conclusion to the story! Maybe the Sports department hopes readers miss the conclusion. Sadly, most of them will.
Mark Meissner, Reston
These women made WAVES
I very much appreciated the Nov. 11 Retropolis article about Julia Parsons and the other code-breaking women of World War II [“Nazi ciphers were no match for WWII code-breaking heroine,” Metro]. The role of these women should be more widely known. However, the article said, “The role of Parsons and other WAVES women and cryptanalysts cannot be understated.” Why write an article about them if they are insignificant? Perhaps the writer meant that their role cannot be overstated. Nor can the role of a good editor be overstated.
Margery Leveen Sher, Washington
Thanks for the wonderful account of Julia Parsons, one of the World War II “code breaker girls.” She was one of thousands of young women (WAVES and WACs) who deciphered Nazi and Japanese codes and probably shortened the war and saved countless lives.
Readers should also know that another of these heroic women lives and thrives in Maryland.
Suzanne Embree, a beloved resident of the Collington Life Plan Community in Mitchellville, was one of the women who broke the Japanese codes. Her fellow residents and friends at Collington, including my wife, Edna Crocker, just celebrated Embree’s 101st birthday and honored her achievements. Former Post staff writer Liza Mundy tells Embree’s and her cohort’s thrilling story in “Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers in World War II.”
David and Edna Crocker, University Park
Thank you for sharing with readers the insightful account of Julia Parsons’s firsthand cryptological contributions to the Allied war effort and in doing so shining a spotlight on the countless women around the world who helped defeat Nazi Germany. However, just as for too long the true story of the tangible contributions made by WAVES and other women auxiliaries such as Parsons has been overlooked by the public, so, too, has the true story of the contributions made by Poles to the cryptological effort been neglected.
Because of the secrecy of the cryptological field and Poland’s subjugation to the Soviet Union after World War II, many to this day do not know that the German Enigma was first cracked by the Polish Cypher Bureau in 1932, many years before Alan Turing did so. Mathematicians Jerzy Rozycki, Henryk Zygalski and Marian Rejewski led the Polish effort and constructed the first Bombe machine, which Turing later improved. Turing’s nephew Dermot Turing in his book, “X, Y & Z: The Real Story of How Enigma Was Broken,” tells of the cryptological cooperation among Poland, France and Britain before and during the war.
Matthew Stefanski, Alexandria
Leave out reproductive status
The Nov. 15 news article “Trump campaign to be a small, Florida-based operation,” about former president Donald Trump’s team for his 2024 campaign for president, characterized Susie Wiles as, among other things, a “grandmother.” I don’t ever notice that The Post uses the equivalent term when talking about male political operatives.
Why is it relevant that Wiles has grandchildren? Don’t male political advisers have grandchildren? This focus on her reproductive status seems condescending and sexist.
Dolly Katz, Atlanta
A needed perspective on the U-Va. tragedy
Robin Givhan’s Nov. 16 news column, “Young men were students, with endless possibilities,” about the shooting deaths of three University of Virginia students, was superb and so very important.
From now on, I will always look for her column in The Post. She is intelligent, insightful and a very necessary part of the newspaper.
Maraline Trager, Bethesda
Robin Givhan’s Nov. 16 column was very well written and much needed. It put into proper perspective the true loss and tragedy of the University of Virginia shooting.
Media outlets guide and influence how people view and feel about events. Certainly, reporting the confusing and disturbing shooting and deaths of students is fraught with difficulties. Please thank Givhan for her work. It can’t make a bad situation better, but it helps us understand its true nature and implications.
Scott Fredericks, Arlington
Leaving ballot questions an open question
How could The Post’s Editorial Board not have had any recommendations for the constitutional amendments on the Maryland ballot?
I saw nothing discussing the merits of proposed foundational changes to Maryland state government. That was disappointing.
Benjamin Slade, Kensington
Do the right thing, Smithsonian
The Nov. 15 Metro article about the Smithsonian Institution’s National Native American Veterans Memorial, “A powerful dedication,” did a superb job of relating how much service in our country’s uniformed services has meant to so many Native Americans and just how much they have given to our country.
It might have been appropriate, however, for the article to have mentioned that the monument omits two groups of Native American veterans: those who have served in the U.S. Public Health Service and those who have served in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. These men and women are recognized as veterans under federal law, and they are just as much veterans as anyone who served in the Army, Navy, Air Force or Marine Corps.
This omission was brought to the attention of the Smithsonian before the building of the memorial, and despite the Smithsonian’s own “Consultation Report,” which quotes Native Americans as saying that the memorial “must be inclusive, honoring all Native American veterans … both men and women, and from all eras and branches of service,” the Smithsonian chose to leave out these two groups of veterans. This omission is the subject of a lawsuit wending its way through the federal court system, but the Smithsonian should do the right thing and make this memorial as inclusive of Native American veterans as it claims to be.
James T. Currie, Alexandria
The writer, an Army veteran, was from 2014 to 2020 executive director of the Commissioned Officers Association of the U.S. Public Health Service, which brought a federal lawsuit against the Smithsonian.
A Post fit for a Saturday evening
Golly! I had to check the internet to see whether Norman Rockwell was still dead. It appeared that he illustrated the Nov. 12 front-page article “Europe aims for rail renaissance.” Saturday’s paper! Rockwell often used over-the-shoulder views, and the scene of ordinary folks in a train station evoked the master illustrator’s celebration of daily life.
Sandra Mehl’s photograph utterly charmed the viewer. All aboard!
LeeAnn Lawch, Bethesda
Begin with bios
There is a discrepancy between The Post’s website and print edition that I believe should be equalized. Online, guest opinions include the writer’s bio at the top, right after the headline and byline. In the print edition, however, this bio is listed at the end of the piece. I believe most readers would prefer knowing the writer’s area of expertise, job title or credentials before reading his or her opinion on a subject.
If the topic is economics or foreign policy, for example, it would help readers to know up top if the writer works for a progressive, conservative, libertarian or centrist institution. For comparison, whenever news programs or political talk shows bring an expert on air, they always list the person’s job title or credential at the outset of the segment. I would urge The Post to adopt the same initial placement for bios in the print edition as it already does online.
Jesse Rifkin, Arlington
The endless uniformity of Chris Richards’s Grammy disdain
Chris Richards hates the Grammys. Why does The Post insist on having him write inane reviews about the awards? The Nov. 16 Critic’s Notebook essay “Nominee list capitalizes on endless uniformity” [Style] was the perfect example. Couldn’t someone do an actual review of the awards rather than going on sarcastically at length about how artists spell their names and song titles?
When reading the article the first time, this thought went through my head: What is he talking about?
Bruce Wright, Reston
Laying out the truth
The caption with the photograph that accompanied the Nov. 16 The World article “Israel decries U.S. decision to probe killing of Palestinian American reporter” read: “Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas lays a wreath on the coffin of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.” Abbas, however, was not laying a wreath; he was standing behind the coffin watching two men in uniform lay the wreath. He might have ordered, directed and/or paid for the wreath to be laid, but he clearly was not laying the wreath as the caption indicated.
I thought the purpose of a caption was to tell the reader what is happening in the photo, including the names of people in the photo. In this case, however, the reader who does not already know what Abbas looks like might easily be misled into thinking Abbas is one of the men in uniform. Please be more careful with photo captions.
Carol Radomski, Silver Spring
What to call the good lord
I was a little surprised that a writer as well read as Louis Bayard didn’t know that the Earl of Grantham, lord of Downton Abbey, is not “Lord Robert,” as Bayard called him in “ ‘Downton Abbey’ star’s ascent from minor player,” his Nov. 17 Style review of Hugh Bonneville’s memoir, “Playing Under the Piano: From Downton to Darkest Peru.” He is Robert Crawley, Lord Grantham.
An ironclad rule of British titles is that one cannot be simultaneously “Lord Firstname” and “Lord Surname.” “Lord Firstname” and “Lady Firstname” are “courtesy titles” that apply only to those not in line to inherit a title, given to the younger sons of dukes and marquises, and to the daughters of dukes, marquises and earls. Thus Lady Rosamund, Robert’s sister; Lady Mary, et al., Robert’s daughters. Cora is Lady Grantham, not Lady Cora. If Robert had had a younger brother, that brother would have been “The Honourable Giles Crawley.”
A nit, but one I choose to pick.
Mary E. Butler, Ellicott City
The Centre of Pennsylvania
I have often felt misled when I read an article that mentions “central” Pennsylvania, as in the article about the Capitol interloper accused of goading a companion to steal House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s computer on Jan. 6, 2021 [“Jurors deliberate in Jan. 6 theft trial,” Metro, Nov. 17]. As a native of Centre County, I was curious about whether I would recognize one of our small towns. As is often the case, any location near the Harrisburg area is labeled as central Pennsylvania. The accused is from Mechanicsburg, west of the state’s capitol, a two-hour drive from Centre County.
Centre County, as the name implies, is in the geographic center of Pennsylvania. Though almost 160,000 people now reside there, it was once a mostly rural farming area where Penn State was founded in 1855 as the Farmers’ High School. Larger municipalities, possibly more accurately labeled as being in central Pennsylvania, would be Altoona to the west and Williamsport to the east.
This wide range of characterization does not really enlighten readers as to where a person resides and might not be important. It obviously is to me as a native of the village of Pleasant Gap who grew up watching the traffic on fall Saturdays backed up for eight miles for Penn State football games. Harrisburg is 90 miles away and never had any Nittany lions roaming its wilderness.
For many years, I tried to decide where “Upstate New York” is. When I finally asked a native New Yorker several months ago, they were not exactly sure: “Perhaps anywhere north of New York City.” Maybe accurate geographical locations don’t really matter unless we remain emotionally tied to where we were raised.
Jacksie Chatlas, Washington